Peer Mediation And Skills Training (PMAST) is a Calgary based registered charity who has provided anti-bullying and conflict management solutions to Calgary high schools, for over 16 years, funding permitting. Our goal is to equip all youth with the ability to demonstrate conflict management skills where they live, learn, work and play.
For today’s youth, conflict is a challenge that hinders the development of self-esteem, self-worth and a sense of belonging. When not properly addressed, the damage of conflict continues through adulthood. Research supports what we already know to be true: unresolved conflict has a serious impact on the wellbeing of families and communities.
PMAST agrees that raising awareness of conflict and bullying, and providing counselling for victims, is important; but to really impact bullying and family violence with long term effects, we must be pro-active and teach youth to handle conflict throughout their lives, before tragedies occur. PMAST programs work for the bully, the victim and the would-be bystander. Helping these kids build healthy relationship skills changes their lives and those around them for this and future generations. The program is designed for diverse ethnic, religious, and socio-economic populations, which often foster sexism, racism and cultural beliefs, increasing the risk factors in that community.
In 2008 our program was adopted by the Restorative Action Program (RAP) in Saskatoon, and was augmented by adding a full-time RAP Practitioner in the school. After a very successful pilot, evaluation of our service delivery model by the University of Saskatchewan identified the recidivism rate for youth engaged in conflict and bullying behaviours was very low in high schools using our model. Due to its success, the Government of Saskatchewan provides partial funding through the provincial budget, working towards having this program in all Saskatchewan High Schools within the next five years.
We need to bring this program in its entirety with the full-time RAP Coordinator, back to Alberta. Cutting back on the program due to lack of funding, results in a "hit-and-run" approach which does not accomplish lasting effects. PMAST requires funding and collaborative engagement opportunities with like organizations, community leaders, educators and government agencies.
“According to STATS CAN, in 2012-2013 there were a total of 41,049 adult offenders incarcerated in Canadian federal and provincial prisons on an average day”. Costs per day for Canadian Federal Prisons average about $260/day per offender. This equals about
$10,673,000 PER DAY or $4 BILLION PER YEAR
and this is only the cost of incarceration. It does not include societal costs for courts, police, probation, legal, victims, rehab programs, property damage, etc. This is costing Canadian taxpayers a lot of money. How can we change this? How many adult offenders were juvenile offenders? What if we could reach these youth before they go down this path?
Mark A Cohen, Professor of Management and Law at Vanderbilt University says "We estimate the present value of saving a 14-year-old high risk juvenile from a life of crime to range from $2.6 to $5.3 million"
So what is happening with youth today? Did you know that bulling and conflict are two of the most important issues facing youth today and social media has just increased that exponentially. About 1/3 of Alberta households surveyed said that bullying has directly affected their family members. (ISPOS-Reid)
To change these lives we need to change the dynamics of these youth, their families and those around them for this and future generations. PMAST has developed relevant, research based programs which provide youth, schools and communities with critical skills to use in all areas of their lives.
We know we have an excellent program which has the power to change lives. We know it helps youth when they need it the most. We know it helps them to stay in school when an inability to deal with the conflict in their lives is too overwhelming. We know that building Peer Mediation Teams in the schools shifts the culture to a more peaceful, friendly and inclusive atmosphere. We know it empowers youth to be leaders - to be the best they can be, and helps them to build better relationships in all aspects of their lives. We know it has a ripple effect that reaches out to families and communities. The Peer Mediation Teams have taught us that "Youth Helping Youth" is far more impactful than adult intervention.
The U.S. National Institute of Justice estimates that every dollar spent on youth prevention and intervention programs results in a savings of between $10 and $22!
PMAST programs are not part of the school curriculum, but offered as a supplement. Unfortunately we always have more requests for our services than funds to fulfill.
We cannot afford to waste this opportunity - Please help us to help our youth!
What People Are Saying
"In a perfect world, every school would be staffed with a mediator who can work with staff, students, and families to come to resolution."
— Ryan Reed, Assistant Principal re PMAST Programs